Writer's reminiscenses make 'Good Old Days' magazine

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Walla Wallan Polly Livengood has been honing her storytelling skills through writing classes at The Center At the Park in order to relate her life story.

Subsequently nipped by the writing bug, she's gotten more ambitious these days. A story she wrote about her family's travels in a homemade trailer in the 1920s proved just right for a publication called Good Old Days.

The January/February 2011 magazine includes Polly's byline on a two-page spread with the photos at right and the headline, "Trailering in the Roaring Twenties, Getting there was half the fun in a homemade 'house trailer.'"

Her memory was jogged when she discovered a nearly disintegrated photo in a box in her shed that depicted the homemade trailer and includes her in the foreground as a small child.

The boxy trailer was built onto the body of a new Ford truck. She said all new cars and trucks were shipped in pieces on the railway. Friends of the family built a "house" with windows and a screen door on the back door, Polly said.

They took an eight-week sojourn from their home in New Bremen, Ohio, to Pike's Peak, Colo., and Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.

En route, they lopped off 12 inches of the structure to streamline and lighten the load, replaced brake bands every other day and stopped and waited for dry conditions or else they'd get bogged down on muddy roads during heavy downpours.

"They no doubt played many games of euchre and sheepshead, both popular card games of that day," Polly surmised in her article

The travelers cooked on a coal-oil stove and bought chickens, homemade bread, eggs and potatoes at farmhouses en route. Polly said they didn't make it to Yellowstone because of the steep climbs over mountain passes. Instead, they left the rig and hired a limousine to squire them in style to Pike's Peak and Yellowstone, a distance of 650 miles one way, then returned to the rig and headed home.

Polly's family accepted an invitation to travel in the house trailer in about 1924 with one of its builders and his wife.

A preschooler at the time, she retains vivid memories of the trip. "I remember the hot and humid weather. To protect us from pesky mosquitoes, our mothers tied brightly colored kerchiefs over our heads. Wherever we stopped, local people thought we were gypsies, which only added to the family fun."

Now, when she heads to the Washington coast for salmon fishing out of Westport, traveling via her family's Winnebago Adventurer, "I think of a long-ago trip in that crude house on wheels. Trailering is good for any age, and trailering is good for any stage."

Another story Polly is writing about involves riding out a magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Oct. 17, 1989, in San Francisco. "Fortunately, it was 40 miles north of the San Francisco Bridge," she told me. She was with her 3-year-old granddaughter Erica Baughman, who said, "Oh Grandma, my tummy turned over."

Polly grew up in Ohio and said it was hard to leave many family members behind to move this way. "I came with my husband, who always loved the West." They lived in Walla Walla, then for 30 years in California, before returning to Walla Walla, she said.

Grace Burrows learned about state government first hand while serving for a week in Olympia with the Washington Senate Page Program.

A freshman at DeSales High School, Grace delivered mail, ran errands, and learned parliamentary procedure. Students also drafted a bill and engaged in a mock session.

Grace was one of nine middle and high school students who took part in the program during the fourth week of the 2011 legislative session, according to a release from her sponsor Sen. Mike Hewitt's office.

Hewitt, (R-Walla Walla), said, "Washington's page program is one of the best in the country. I'm glad Grace got the opportunity to participate."

"It was really fun getting to know the campus and know all of the other pages," Grace said. "Going on errands and being able to walk around the Capitol was the best part."

In her free time, Grace shows and breeds rabbits through 4-H. Her family currently has 30 rabbits of several different breeds. She is also a teen leader for 4-H and a member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

Her parents are Patrick Burrows and Susanna Lutcher of Walla Walla.

Junior high and high school students interested in the Senate Page Program may visit www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Administration/PageProgram/.

Some members of the Walla Walla High School debate team found success at tournaments Jan. 22 in Moses Lake for schools in the district and Spokane and another on Jan. 28-29 at Pacific Lutheran University, said coach Jean Tobin. The second event was the largest tournament in Washington this year. Approximately 50 schools attended and the top students in the state competed. "Although we did not earn any team awards, we did have some students that had individual successes," Jean said.

At Moses Lake in debate, Wa-Hi had students receive top marks in all divisions of debate. Marisol Beck made it to finals in congress; Julia Cosma and partner Kera Parsons took second in the top level of Public Forum debate winning all three rounds; and Bryan Preston and new competitor this year Sean Hamilton placed third in the top division of Public forum. They debated whether or not plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system, Jean said.

Rosa Tobin, Konor Clark, Carrie Moore and Calvin Brigham all tied with several other students for the best records in the top-level Lincoln-Douglas debate competition with two wins and on loss records. No student in the tournament went 3-0 in this division.

Jean said Rosa earned the highest speaker points at the tournament. "I was frustrated with the decision not to give Rosa first place at the tournament seeing as she had the same record as the student they gave first to, had higher speaker points than all other competitors and beat the student who took second place," Jean said. Those students debated whether juveniles who commit violent felonies should be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

In open division Individual Events: Hope Grant-Herriot took first with an expository on facial hair and was third in interpretive reading and fourth in tall tales; Carrie Moore took third for her expository on the electrical grid; Machado Migija took third in tall tales; Calvin Brigham took third in editorial commentary for a humorous speech on a man who intends to live with lions for 30 days.

In dual interpretation, Carrie Moore and Marisol Beck were fourth; in impromptu, Kendall Dunovant places fourth, Konor Clark, fifth in tall tales; and in novice interpretive reading, Ori VanDyke was in a four-way tie for second with her rankings. At PLU, in open (top) division individual events: Marisol earned fourth place with her expository on women and rabbits; Hope, first with an interpretive reading on making your own fairy tale endings.

In novice individual events: Kendall Dunovant earned first with an impromptu speech on segregation.

In Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Senior Division: Rosa took third place, going 5-1 and losing to Eastside Catholic in semi-finals.

"Attending this tournament was an amazing experience," said Jean of the PLU event. "The best students in the state of Washington attend this tournament and the competition is intense. It was a great opportunity for our team, especially our novices, to watch and see what is expected at the highest levels. All events except impromptu and debate had only one division (open) and many events had almost 100 competitors."

She said many other judges and coaches commented about the politeness of the Wa-Hi students and about the quality of their presentations.

"No other school from our region had students earn awards at this tournament."

"This year Walla Walla High School has really supported the debate team by helping us financially to compete at district tournaments. However, this was an additional tournament and we were able to attend due to the amazing support shown our program by donations from community members. We are so thankful for all the support shown by the school district and the community." Wa-Hi and Lincoln High schools hosted a debate tournament Feb. 5 for the district at Lincoln High School.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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